Editorials

Early Returns on Ty France, Luis Torrens should Excite Mariners fans

The Seattle Mariners pulled what was likely the second most notable trade of the 2020 trade deadline when they sent Austin Nola, Austin Adams, and Dan Altavilla to the San Diego Padres for Taylor Trammell, Andres Munoz, Ty France, and Luis Torrens. The prize of the deal for Seattle and GM Jerry Dipoto was and is Trammell, but the early returns show an absolute steal for Seattle whether or not Trammell hits for the Mariners.

The two MLB players Seattle received in the deal, France and Torrens, weren’t exactly afterthoughts, but neither carried the same cache as a top 50 prospect and a 104 MPH fastball throwing reliever. And yet, both are showing the goods to be everyday players at the plate.

France was expected to hit early and often. The bat is his lone carrying tool. And after hitting .309/.377/.491 with the Padres in 20 games, France has come over to the Mariners and is hitting .379/.455/.690 in 33 plate appearances. Obviously, that’s not sustainable. Not to Ty France and not to Mike Trout. But the eye test also tells a story. France is hitting the ball hard. He’s flashing gap to gap power. He’s taking walks. And his plate appearances are becoming appointment viewing.

We still don’t know where France will play going forward. The Mariners have used him at 3B, 2B, and DH. He isn’t average at any position outside of first base, and with Evan White also crushing the ball (and locked into a ultra-team friendly deal) that’s not really an option. But for now, France doesn’t need a place to play everyday. He just needs his four plate appearances.

As for Torrens, we know where he will play. And unlike France, he’s actually quite good at his current position. Torrens is a natural catcher with soft hands, good athleticism, and a strong arm. His framing will only get stronger as he learns more about his pitchers. But we knew Torrens could be a solid defensive catcher. The question was whether or not Torrens could hit enough to be a strong backup catcher. Thus far, the answer is promising.

Torrens has been hitting the ball hard… kind of a lot. And much like teammate Evan White, he isn’t always being rewarded for it. Torrens is currently hitting just .190/.292/.232 with the Mariners. But Torrens current average exit velocity of 94 MPH is elite. The number ties him for 3rd in baseball with Teoscar Hernandez and… Mike Trout. Obviously, Torrens doesn’t have the sample size to call this a “real thing”, but it is something.

Torrens is a player who was rushed to the big leagues. Taken in the Rule 5 draft a good year before he was ready to compete at the big league level, Torrens has been traded twice already. But he’s just 24-years-old and has a nearly 1:1 K/BB rate. He is currently walking at a 9.8% walk rate while posting an impressive 14.6% strikeout rate. He has shown an understanding of the strike zone, plus bat to ball skills, and is hitting the ball hard.

Look at how he pulls his hands in on this 96 MPH fastball and keeps the ball fair for a 2 RBI double.

This is still the Taylor Trammell trade until further notice. But if France and Torrens are legitimate, everyday bats, that could change quite fast. It isn’t often that a team can trade away one of their best players and say they got better in season, but the Seattle Mariners could very well be in that position. France and Torrens are crushing it thus far and Trammell and Munoz both carry plenty of upside to make this deal one of the biggest steals in Mariners history.

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